Sumac Cafe, Goodwood Road

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date of visit: Saturday 1 August 2015

A couple of months back we were driving down Goodwood Road for some reason and spotted Sumac Cafe. After dark it’s a bit hard to miss – the windows are rather boldly edged with brightly coloured fairy lights making it seem, at first glance, rather less like a cafe.

As we’re both big fans of middle eastern food it went on the ‘to-do’ list and we almost made it there a month or so ago but some really feral weather put us off driving ‘too far’. Last weekend, there was no excuse.

We’d done our research and knew that Sumac was open all day, so our need to eat early wouldn’t be a problem. Even so, when we we arrived there were still quite a few tables occupied.

While the cafe feels quite large and spacious there’s not actually that many tables so if you were wanting to eat at a more sensible time than 5:30pm I’d recommend booking.

Everything is very casual – the menus are laminated and you order and pay at the counter and receive a table number. There’s a fridge for drinks and a water fountain. The cafe is unlicensed so don’t head along expecting a beer!

The menu is not excessively long and most of the options are based around platters, so this is an ideal venue if you like sharing your food. For any conservative eaters, there are burgers, and there are also middle eastern style pizzas, flavoured with things like za’atar. There are a few pictures on the menu so Master 4 decided he wanted the felafel plate ($9.90 for 6 felafel, pickles and tahini) while we chose the kebab/shaslik platter – $21.90 for one each of chicken, lamb and kofta kebabs, served with rice, salad (choice of fattoush or tabouleh), pickles, babaghanoush, hummous and toum. Of course, you also get pita bread on the side.

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The food came out reasonably quickly – the grill is open to the restaurant so you get an excellent idea of what’s currently being cooked and how far off your food is. Obviously, it was not quickly enough for Master 4 (any tips on how to stop your four year old bellowing “Where’s my food?” greatly appreciated!) but when it arrived it was all hot, fresh and delicious.

For me, the revelation of the meal was the toum. Perfectly white, slightly lumpy in appearance, this is one ferociously garlicky sauce. To say it is like aioli is not really fair because aioli has eggs in it and toum is all about the garlic. It is basically garlic and oil. I don’t know whether toum is a peculiarly Lebanese thing or not – I’ve never knowingly had it in other middle eastern countries (and I’ve never been to Lebanon) but certainly, if you believe the internet, the Lebanese lay claim to it. Now I’ve discovered it, I don’t really care. After scoffing an unfair proportion of that served to us (unfair in both that I deprived Andy of a 50% portion and then breathed all over him!), I announced that it would be perfect on a big slice of bread or toast. It really is that good!

There were other things on the plate – the kebabs were all delicious, the fattoush was good (lots of crispy bread on top – yum!) and I also liked the lightly spiced rice and the hummous. Babaghanoush I never like (I did try it, I promise!).

The pickles were also tasty – pickled chillis that weren’t too hot, olives and some alarmingly bright pink pickle which I have since discovered is turnip and beetroot. It was really crunchy with a relatively neutral savoury pickle flavour. At the time, we couldn’t pick what it was.

We probably didn’t order quite enough food because of course we had to share our kebabs and rice (in particular) with Master Four who only reluctantly let us try his felafel (and only once he had established he was completely full). There was a family platter on offer and I think that might have been a better choice – something we can try out next time we head there!

Because I love middle eastern desserts and pastries we decided to investigate dessert – something of a rarity for us. I was really disappointed that the only desserts (or sweet things) on offer were all decidedly western European. Custard tart, cannoli, muffin? I asked about baklava and was told that they had sold out. I think that’s a bit of stock control that needs redressing – if you’re out of baklava at 6:30pm on a Saturday night the chances are there will be a few unhappy customers later in the evening.

One thing to be aware of – the cafe is also home to three massive TV screens. I don’t know why people do it. There was no sound, but TV screens are these horrible, horrible things that magically suck everyone into gawping at them and they have no place in a cafe or restaurant.

TV screes and fairy lights aside – we’ll definitely be heading back to Sumac and we left feeling it was quite a shame we didn’t live in the area so we could also make use of the takeaway side of the business!

Sumac Cafe
576-590 Goodwood Road
Colonel Light Gardens SA 5041
phone: 08 8177 1458

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Hedgehog Slice

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Our local library invariably has a small display of books that are for sale. These are either former library books or (I am guessing) they are books that people have donated that the library has chosen not to add to its collection. That’s the only way I can explain why some have barcodes and some don’t. The books are always insanely cheap (20c for a paperback) and while the number and range available varies widely, it is always worth spending a minute or two perusing.

A month or so ago I picked up Basics to Brilliance: Slices Recipes, put together by Family Circle and published only a few years ago. For some reason, I have it in my head that now that Master 4 is at pre-school (and soon to be at school) slices should be a part of my repertoire. I don’t know why I think that – I’m not the type of parent who includes sweet treats in a lunch box and we certainly don’t have cake and friends all the time at home.

I’ve spent quite a lot of time poring over this book and even managed to induce some cookbook envy in at least one friend. Even though the book was only published in 2007 the recipes definitely have a slightly old fashioned feel to them. I’m not sure that had this book been produced in the 70s or 80s it would have been much different.

And that is a good thing – there’s a reason why classics are classics. Some things just work and taste good. And don’t need trend driven labels attached to them.

Last weekend we were heading to my cousin’s house for my aunt’s birthday celebrations and we were planning on taking a plate of charcuterie with us. However, a quick check meant my cousin requested something sweet and, on very limited time, I consulted the book and found the hedgehog slice.

Many slice recipes are a bit time consuming because you have to deal with layers. Not so the hedgehog and it has the bonus of being a refrigerator cake – no oven and perfect if you are wanting an activity to do with a small child. If you are really pushed for time then you can skip the ganache topping.

Hedgehog Slice

Ingredients

    hedgehog
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 125g plain, sweet biscuits (I used a plain shortbread)
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • ½ cup coca powder
  • 1 egg
  • ganache
  • 125g dark chocolate
  • 30g unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. Line a 20cm square tin with foil. If you only have a larger tin - don't worry. The hedgehog mixture is very thick and will stay in one part of the tin.
  2. In a pan, heat the butter and sugar until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved.
  3. Lightly crush the biscuits. Put them in a freezer bag and give them a gentle beating with a rolling pin.
  4. Chop the walnuts. I did this in the food processor - you want them reasonably chunky so with a knife would be fine.
  5. Lightly beat the egg.
  6. Once the sugar has completely dissolved, reduce the heat to low and add the biscuits, cocoa and walnuts. Stir well and then remove from the heat.
  7. Allow to cool a little and then mix the egg through thoroughly.
  8. Pour into your pan and flatten off. Put in the fridge to set.
  9. Once the hedgehog is set (this will only take half an hour to an hour), make the ganache. Melt the chocolate and butter together (in the microwave for speed and ease) until smooth, allow to cool and thicken slightly and then spread over the hedgehog.
  10. Using a fork, create a wavy pattern if desired.
  11. Refrigerate again. When ready to serve, cut into squares. It should make around 16-20 pieces.
  12. Best served straight from the fridge.
http://eatingadelaide.com/hedgehog-slice/

Avoca Hotel, Clarence Gardens

 

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date of visit: Saturday 20 June 2015

The new Entertainment Books have been on sale for quite a while and we took a while making a decision about which charity or cause we were going to support (for the record, the RSPCA) and whether we were going to go digital or paper. A friend of mine had already bought her digital version so we had a look at it and decided to give it a go. So far we’ve used it twice and there’s been no issues … so fingers crossed things stay that way.

Newly acquired app in hand, we were keen to use it so we embarked on the torturous process that is making a weekend dinner decision. Obviously, this time round we wanted somewhere in the book and it needed to be somewhere that started dinner service at 5:30 pm at the latest. Master Four cannot be waiting for his dinner!

Andy rang up and booked and reported that we were booked into the restaurant, which didn’t mean much to either of us. Like many suburban pubs, the Avoca has undergone overhauls in recent years and it now has a range of areas, including the restaurant but also the Glasshouse and the Decks and beer garden. In fact, there are enough areas that when you arrive they have signs pointing in different directions to help you find your way!

As the pub is on South Road, finding it is easy and there’s a ton of parking out the back, which, given its location, is essential. However, the Avoca is really popular and we might have arrived at 5:30pm but it didn’t mean that we had our choice of car parks. The restaurant was (unsurprisingly!) empty but Andy had been told that other dining areas were booked out. The bonus of dining in the restaurant was that we had full table service. Master 4 approved – you should have seen the look on his face when he got to order his own meal!

Food wise the menu offers the pub standards (schnitzel, pizza, salt and pepper squid) as well as a few more interesting dishes, such as prawn chu chee curry, crispy skinned salmon, pork belly and fillet steak. There is also a short children’s menu which is unexciting.

Master 4 decided he wanted fish and chips so our first priority was to check out what the children’s fish and chips actually was. We’ve been in pubs where the children’s food has a horrible almost pre-masticated pale pale shadow of proper food, so we are always a little bit wary. I’d rather buy Master 4 a full portion of food he doesn’t finish than something I wouldn’t eat myself.

However, our waiter assured us that the children’s fish and chips was identical to the adult version, but only one piece of fish. While the Avoca is to be commended that this fish is sustainably caught, it is disappointing that the choice has been made to use NZ hoki. Especially as hoki is blue grenadier and locally caught is available. And while the fish was nicely cooked, the batter was crispy and the chips were … chips, the addition of a small salad for children wouldn’t go astray. As all the children’s meals come with the option of soft drinks or ice cream, perhaps salad or vegetables could be added to that choice.

Andy chose the chicken schnitzel with gravy (a departure from the usual beef as that is 350g and was deemed too large) and I opted for the chicken burger. Not only was the chicken burger huge but it was also really tasty. Bacon, tomato, cheese, lettuce and dill mayonnaise – with all the salad parts lovely and fresh and the chicken moist. I loved it. In fact, I’m still talking about. I would definitely go back and be sorely tempted to eat it again rather than try anything else on the menu.

The service was good – I definitely enjoyed having table service and the staff were all friendly but at no point intrusive. Of course, this is a pub so things are efficient so perhaps don’t expect a luxuriously long meal. I understand that despite the hotel’s many different areas, the menu is common so you don’t have to worry about different foods in different areas. I was impressed – yes, this is a pub dinner and while I’ve had some great ones recently, I’ve also had some shockers. And an impressed and happy customer talks about it and … guess what … some friends of ours have already (happily) dined there!

The Avoca Hotel
893 South Road
Clarence Gardens SA
8293 1183

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